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Poulsbo weathers flooding well

POULSBO — It’s been nearly a week since the city of Poulsbo declared a state of emergency after melting snow and heavy rains left creeks overflowing and many areas flooded. But while some residents’ basements continue to dry out, much of the large-scale damage was kept to a minimum.

By Tuesday, the city’s Emergency Operations Center was shut down, roads were reopened and recovery efforts were in full swing.

Public Works director Jeff Bauman said for the most part, the city’s infrastructure is up and running. And after a day of diluted sewage overflows and water covered roadways, that’s certainly a good thing.

“The streets and the sewer system and the storm system are working,” he said. “By and large, we were spared some of the really bad damage that could have occurred.”

Bauman said the city set priorities Monday based on public health and safety. Some of the day’s worst flooding occured on 7th Avenue and Fjord Drive. Other private properties and public facilities were affected, including erosion along Viking Avenue and an exposed water main, which the city has already worked to remedy. In Poulsbo Village, one of the hardest-hit areas in town, stores were closed after the parking lot was flooded in inches of water; Tuesday Rite Aid was filling prescriptions at the door as inside cleanup got under way.

Sport Haus owner Paulette Huisingh said Thursday she hoped to have her sporting goods store would be open this weekend, a vital time for retailers. Water in the parking lot behind her store got so high Monday, two cars were almost fully submersed. Despite having stocked the store with sandbags, there was no keeping out the flood.

“It just whooshed in,” she said. Efforts to clean up and dry out began Monday night, and fans, humidifiers and heaters were still running well into the week. Huisingh said aside from potential damage to carpet, most loss would be inventorial, and it will probably take a month before she can fully assess just what Mother Nature’s tantrum will cost her.

“Things happen and you just move on,” she said resolutely, adding with tears in her eyes how touched she has been at community members and customers who’ve stopped by with fans, helping hands and encouraging words. “People have been absolutely wonderful.”

Construction sites, too, were adversely affected by the deluge.

After the city’s first activation of its newly established Emergency Operations Center, Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade said she was pleased with city’s capable reaction. A county-wide earthquake drill Oct. 31 had city staff prepared to handle the storm.

“I’m so proud of this team,” Quade said. “Having the benefit of the County Emergency Operations drill just was the absolute right support for us opening up the EOC.”

Bauman agreed.

“We had a good idea of what we needed to do and how to set priorities,” he said.

Councilman Dale Rudolph, too, said he was delighted with the EOC activation.

“I was impressed not only by the staff response, which they set up the EOC and really jumped on things, but in the last several years we’ve done almost every major road in town in one way or another, and those roads with their new storm drainage systems did wonderfully,” he said.

Bauman said the city also prepared contingency plans for the expected high winds, and potential related mudslides, originally thought to occur Monday evening.

A cost estimate for damages has not yet been set, and Bauman said the city is working with the county, which is consolidating damage estimates and spearheading efforts for federal relief funding.

For more information on county-wide storm impacts, including how to report structural damage, visit www.kitsapdem.org.

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